EAGLE PASS, Texas — A 27-year-old southwest Texas man was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison Monday for alien smuggling that resulted in the death of a Honduran national. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Border Patrol.
Fernando Ochoa, 27, was sentenced April 30 in federal court in Eagle Pass, Texas, to 216 months in federal prison.
"Targeting smugglers who prey on human beings is an HSI top priority," said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. "Human smugglers have a callous disregard for the value of life. We will continue to aggressively pursue these alien smugglers who jeopardize the lives of others for their personal profit."
According to court documents, on Sept.15, 2010, the Border Patrol had been tracking suspected crossings of illegal aliens through the brush in the vicinity of Highway 277 between Eagle Pass and Carrizo Springs. That day the Border Patrol detained several illegal aliens who told agents that one man had been abandoned in the brush. The Border Patrol responded to the location and encountered a deceased Honduran national.
The Border Patrol contacted HSI and apprised them of the situation. HSI special agents responded and immediately began questioning those arrested by the Border Patrol. HSI learned that Luis Francisco Ochoa-Ramon and Ariel Gonzalez, both Mexican nationals, worked for Ochoa as alien smuggling guides. Both Ochoa-Ramon and Gonzalez were arrested and convicted of human smuggling resulting in death. They were each sentenced to 60 months in federal prison.
Ochoa has been in federal custody since his arrest Oct. 14, 2010. He will remain in custody until he is transported to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility in the near future.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Celia Moyer, Western District of Texas, successfully prosecuted this case.